PostHeaderIcon Carnival of Space #100

Wow – this carnival is one not to miss. Hosted by the One Minute Astronomer, this week’s Carnival of Space is a wonderful collection of awesome astronomy news and explanations.

~ A l i c e !

PostHeaderIcon Earth Revealed: Astronomy Day 2009 at Pacific Science Center

Come one, come all to Pacific Science Center’s celebration of Astronomy on May 2, 2009 from 10am-6pm.

Here’s the quote from our website:

Earth Revealed

This spring, Pacific Science Center celebrates local scientific research focusing on all of the amazing things scientists learn by looking at Earth from satellites circling our planet in space. This series of programs showcases local scientists, allowing our visitors to meet and participate in hands-on activities with the people who conduct this cutting edge research.

[Our] month long celebration [Earth Revealed] culminates with a Special Event, Saturday, May 2, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Join Pacific Science Center as we showcase Earth as you have never seen it before. Over twenty hands-on activity stations will be ready to explore, all facilitated by local scientists. Additionally, KING 5 meteorologist, Jeff Renner will make a special presentation! This event is targeted to families with elementary and middle school aged children although will be most appropriate for kids 8-years-old and up.

Awesome Science!

Our ability to look back at Earth from space, using satellites and other space craft, has transformed what we know about our home planet over the last fifty years. From space, we can see weather patterns such as hurricanes and features such as glaciers, volcanoes and oceans in a whole new way. For the first time in human history, we can see ourselves living on and altering a dynamic planet. Discover this fascinating area of research during Pacific Science Center’s Earth Revealed: A View Of Our Planet From Space events!

Learn how scientists:

  • Understand and predict hurricane intensity by combining satellite data with information gathered during flights into real storms!
  • Study the beautiful and awe inspiring Northern Lights!
  • Determine the make-up of Earth’s atmosphere, and then look for similar planets outside of our own solar system!
  • Discover how fires affect our forests!
  • Gather information about the location and thickness of sea ice and glaciers!

Partners:

University of Washington participants include Applied Physics Lab, College of Forestry Resources, Department of Astronomy, School of Oceanography, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Earth and Space Sciences and Department of Electrical Engineering. Other event participants include Microsoft, JISAO, Central Washington University, KING 5 News and NOAA National Weather Service.

In addition we’ll have planetarium shows (first come, first seated, and seating is LIMITED!) every hour on the hour, astronomy crafts and activities scattered throughout the buildings.

I got to meet a couple of these scientists last week at one of the events that have been going on all month. They’re fun to talk to, have cool stuff to show you, and best of all make it easy to understand!

~ A l i c e !

PostHeaderIcon Logo

For those of you who wanted to use my logo to link to me – I dropped a slightly more manageable version at the bottom of the left-hand column. It should also show up as a choice when sharing links to my site through facebook and the like.

Now don’t go abusing this and making it look like I support things I don’t!

~ A l i c e !

PostHeaderIcon Carnival of Space #99

Welcome, one and all, to the 99th edition of the Carnival of Space. I feel special to host the last two-digit Carnival (and I can’t wait to see who gets #100!).

On with it!

I present this week’s Carnival in the form of my best recipe for bread (my friends call it Alice Bread, and it is quite easy to make):

  1. First you need 1 Cup hot water (as hot as you can get from the tap) – and in that vein Christopher of the fairly new and piping hot Innumerable Worlds presents an analysis of the Sun’s wobble (What if we were looking back at ourselves from 10pc away? Would we detect the worlds we have here?).
  2. Next, Brian, Next Big Future, tells us about eensy-weensy solar sails that are probably smaller than the 1 Tbsp Regular Yeast you’ll need next, and space based solar power.
  3. Make sure your yeast is at least as fresh as the radio news from Nicole at One Astronomer’s Noise – don’t try this with a packet that’s been in the back of your cupboard for years.
  4. A Babe in the Universe, Louise, celebrates Yuri’s Night with at least 1 Tbsp Sugar.
  5. You can use any sweetener you like – just something for the yeast to eat, and to add a little flavor to the bread, and Alan from MSNBC offers a number of choices, addressing the questions of space-based solar power, Hubble’s “Hand” in space, and rocket racers.
  6. Mang from the 433rd faces the oil (1 Tbsp Oil, that is) and water of the Pluto question.
  7. Kimberly from the Chandra team shows us what Chandra is up to, combining its data with that from other scopes, just like I use various oils to get various flavors in this bread: I use olive for a “French” bread, and canola for a slightly plainer taste.
  8. Emily, Planetary Society Weblog, loves the shadows on Saturn’s Rings, rings which we all know are made of tiny particles – just like the 3-5 Cups of Flour you’ll require.
  9. I use All-Purpose white flour from the USA – if you love whole wheat I’d do several experiments instead of using this recipe as is. Speaking of experiments, Brian, the One-Minute Astronomer visited base camp for some very famous ones, and reports on his visit to Palomar. (Also, if you live in another country your flour may have a different gluten content, so try this recipe and let me know how it works, but the recipe is very flexible, so I’d expect it to turn out okay).
  10. Heat a bowl. Ian from AstroEngine examines the Sun’s theoretical binary companion: it wouldn’t be very hot, comparatively, but still significantly hotter than you need to get the bowl you’ll be working with.  I heat my bowl by running the backside of the bowl under hot water until it doesn’t feel cool anymore.
  11. Put your hot water in the heated bowl, which is where the Mars Sample Return missions David at Rocket Explorers looks at never quite got.
  12. Mix sugar and oil in with the hot water (the goal is to have warm, happy, well-fed yeast). I mean, if you were going to go meet aliens around another star, wouldn’t you want them to be warm, happy, and well fed? Paul from Centauri Dreams talks about human interstellar flight versus robotic probes creating a “telepresence.”
  13. Add yeast to your hot water mix. Paul of the Meridiani Journal examines strange formations on Mars, much like the strange formations you’re about to observe in your yeast.
  14. Stir once, and while you do so read Stuart’s presentation “Rover Hugger” (which I can’t wait to finish reading myself!).
  15. Wait until the yeast reproduces (you’ll see it “bloom” or get foamy). This is the best part! This should take 2-5 minutes, and you can watch it happen before your very eyes. Ethan at Starts with a Bang has also been watching for evidence of “babies” on a much different scale and has the secret to why nature decorates her galactic nurseries for girls.
  16. Add one cup of flour. Stir, just like Colbert stirred up the ISS-module-naming community over the last few weeks. Robert of Collect Space weighs in on the NASA/Colbert naming resolution.
  17. Add another cup of flour. Stir, and since he stirred up the community so well, Irene from the Discovery Channel knows just what NASA should do about Colbert.
  18. Add a third cup of flour, knead in – don’t cut like you would a pastry, or like Occam’s razor might if you were Tycho Brahe: Ian of Astroblog wonders what the real role of parallax measurements in Tycho’s rejection of the Copernican system was.
  19. Hubble just keeps finding more cool stuff, in this case presented by Phil, the Bad Astronomer, and just like that, if you need more flour, keep adding and kneading – you want to have dough that forms a ball and stays that shape.
  20. Don’t worry about overkneading, but also don’t add more flour than you need just because the recipe calls for 3-5 cups. Speaking of adding more than one might need (or perhaps not enough), Shubber of the Space Cynics opines about the bailout’s effect on space projects.
  21. If it’s stiff after just 2.5 cups, let it be – you’re done, but Nancy from the Universe Today hopes this isn’t the case for our space station and that we extend the life of ISS.
  22. Oil a second bowl. Use the same oil you used in the bread, and speaking of using something you’ve used before, Bruce examines the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still over at 21st Century Waves.
  23. Place the dough in the bowl, turn once to get it coated in oil – it might even look like the Moon Alexander of Potentia Tenebras Repellendi is writing about in his search for the Moon’s mother.
  24. Darnell of Colony Worlds wonders if space elevators are rising in the right direction. Your bread certainly should be: let it rise until it’s doubled in size, covered and warm (About 45 minutes). I preheat my oven to about ~100F (I know, you can’t do that, I just turn it on for 10 minutes and then turn it off and keep it closed).
  25. Punch down, knead once or twice, and form into the shape you want – perhaps the shape of Ryan’s Moon rocks. He took a short detour from the Martian Chronicles to check out Moon rock processing at Johnson Space Center. I make an oval on my baking sheet, but it works in a loaf pan too.
  26. Let rise again for at least 15 more minutes, but you can let it go for up to 45. At least you don’t have to wait 520 days like the people on the mission to Mars currently happening in Moscow. Bruce from Music of the Spheres reports.
  27. Bake in a greased or completely non-stick pan at 350° F for 45 minutes. Speaking of baking, I really don’t want to be on this mission: Ralph from Discovery Enterprise suggests we send crewed missions to Venus,  and Alex found a video about a Mars mission based on Apollo technology.

Okay, so my grammar had to get a little weird there, sorry. It’s kind of hard to make a carnival list fit a recipe.

Please comment to let me know about any mistakes.  If you’re not out of time yet, don’t miss the past couple Carnivals:

Have fun!

~ A l i c e !

PostHeaderIcon GPS Satellites

Now that we’ve got this fun exhibit “GPS Adventures” here at Pacific Science Center I’m getting some questions about the GPS satellites themselves.

How many GPS Satellites are there?

This is a more fascinating question that you might think. Everywhere I look the answer is “more than 24.” I find that confusing. Do you mean 25? 30? Can’t you count them? Well, actually, not so much.

The way the technology is set up means that there need to be at least 24 operational GPS satellites at any given time. So, when one breaks there needs to be another already up there to take its place. I counted 25 on NASA/JPL’s JTrack list today. There have been as many as 30 in the past, and they’ll launch more as those 25 get older and need to be replaced.

What kind of orbit are those satellites in?

A group of satellites is called a constellation. The GPS Satellites all orbit about 11,000 miles above the earth’s surface in a Middle Earth Orbit (MEO) which is between a Low Earth Orbit – like the Shuttle – and a Geosynchronous Orbit – like the satellites that broadcast satellite TV. Satellites in MEO orbit the Earth about twice a day.

Satellites-You-Use

Satellites You Use (a small selection)

How many satellites can you “see” at once?

Always a minimum of five. You only need three for basic positioning, four for better positioning, and five just means if one signal drops for you there’s another waiting.

What is the resolution of GPS?

General GPS (that which you might already have in your car) will pinpoint your location to within a meter or so. Advanced GPS will pinpoint your receiver to within a centimeter! Those advanced GPS technologies are also called “Differential GPS,” “Carrier Wave GPS,” or “Augmented GPS.”

Want More?

Come to GPS Adventures – If you’re interested in GPS Satellites and GPS technology check out the first and fourth rooms of the maze – they’re chock full of information! (Don’t want to get stuck in the maze with a gaggle of kids? Come to our next Science with a Twist – and experience the exhibit with a 21-and-up crowd.)
Check out the back of this month’s starmap – all about satellites you use.

Where’d I Get My Info?

Trimble’s GPS Tutorial
Some of these answers I got from the exhibit itself.
JTrack

Alice Enevoldsen

~ A l i c e !

PostHeaderIcon Scientists Who Work in Astronomy-Related Fields Needed

It is currently the International Year of Astronomy and Pacific Science Center is embarking on a project with our high school interns this summer to create posters of current astronomers for display at Pacific Science Center and distribution to science teachers this fall. The detailed project description is below.

We have the interns, the cameras, the plan and now all we need is some astronomers! This is where I need your help.

Do you know any scientists who work in astronomy-related fields? Any astronomers? Astrophysicists? Aerospace engineers? Grad students in planetary geology? All of these “count” as scientists for this project – any field that’s even remotely related to astronomy is great for us and any “level” of scientist, from grad student, to post-doc, to professor, to a person who applies these sciences in industry. We would prefer if these people are in the greater Seattle area, or are at least visiting Seattle sometime this summer. We are especially looking for minorities (of all kinds) in the field of astronomy.

We’re hoping to put together about 25 posters that include a photograph taken by the interns and some short biographical information about each scientist: current projects, hobbies, etc. We would love to meet more than 25 scientists so we have lots of choices for the posters.

The photography sessions and interviews will take place during the summer (end of June through early August 2009), and should only take about an hour.

If you know of anyone who would be willing to participate or help in other ways, please send me their contact information or forward this message on to them.

Project Description
Modern Scientists: Everyone Knows What a Scientist Looks Like

Children are inspired to follow career paths when they can imagine themselves there. Seeing pictures of adult individuals who look like them working in a given career can provide this spark to children’s imaginations. As a teaher it is difficult to decorate a classroom with posters of scientists who look like today’s students. Most (though not all) of the current available posters of scientists are of Einstein, and scientists who look like Einstein. This is not representative of the current face of science.

To help change this, Pacific Science Center will host a photography exhibit: photographs of real, current scientists from all races, genders, beliefs, and walks of life. Photos will be taken and short biographies written by interns from Pacific Science Center’s youth development program.
We plan to make the photographs from this exhibit available to teachers for use in their classrooms, in addition to being displayed at Pacific Science Center during the International Year of Astronomy.

The objectives of this project are to fill a need for representative photographs of scientists in the world community and to meet two of the goals of International Year of Astronomy: to provide a modern image of science and scientists, and to improve the gender-balanced representation of scientists at all levels and promote greater involvement by underrepresented minorities in scientific and engineering careers.

Thank you,

Alice Enevoldsen

~ A l i c e !
alicesastroinfo (a) gmail.com

Life’s boring without Discovery!

P.S. Don’t miss this week’s Carnival – over at cheapastro – and I’m in it for the Mars April Fools post!

PostHeaderIcon Vacations to Mars and Pacific Science Center

I’ll bet most of you reading this post are dropping by because you want to visit Mars. (What? You don’t know that Expedia is selling vacation packages to Mars? Well, you really should go book your seat RIGHT NOW before they sell out.)

The funniest thing happened to me earlier this month, I got an e-mail from my friend Corinne Cooley with five extremely detailed questions about Mars. I did my best to help her out, and it turns out she was one of the masterminds behind arranging those vacation packages, and got me that nice link at the bottom of Expedia’s Flights to Mars page.

I’ve had to keep my answers under wraps until today (you wouldn’t want all the seats to be sold before they’ve even announced they’re selling them, would you?) but finally, here they are.

Question(s) One: Would star-gazing on Mars be as good as I think it would? The atmosphere is a lot thinner. On the other hand I know it can be very dusty. What are your thoughts for on average, and in best conditions? If dust can’t be up to have good gazing, are there any regions on Mars that are significantly less prone to dust storms, or significantly less impacted in a ‘visibility through atmosphere’ sense?

Impacts on Stargazing:

  • Light Pollution – you’ll have none of this, and this takes our viewing from the ability to see ~4000 stars on Earth to seeing ~100 in a city.
  • Moon Glow – another form of light pollution, but with tiny moons, you’re not going to have a problem here at all. You also will never see a beautiful crescent moon set just after the Sun, or a solar eclipse.
  • Atmosphere – This affects seeing more than it affects ability to see. Whoa – confusing? Atmosphere will make things wobbly, and more atmosphere will blot out some dim stuff you can see. Although the astronauts have the best view ever, they could also only probably see about ~4000 – ~6000 stars if they were looking away from the Sun and their eyes adjusted. We can see that lower number from a great location on Earth.
  • Water Vapor (clouds etc) – We have a lot of this on Earth. There is some on Mars too – we saw snow falling from clouds towards the Phoenix Lander, and we have time and again seen clouds on Mars. You’ll have SIGNIFICANTLY less, so I would not expect your stars to twinkle nearly as much as they do here.
  • Particulate Matter (dust storms) – So, Mars has periodic global dust storms. Looks like ten in the 30+ years that we’ve been watching. At this time you’ll see nothing, and you’ll hunker down under a rock and wait for it to pass.

Quote from Dr. Tony Phillips: “Because the martian atmosphere is thin–about 1% as dense as Earth’s at sea level–only the smallest dust grains hang in the air. “Airborne dust on Mars is about as fine as cigarette smoke,” says Bell. These fine grains reflect 20% to 25% of the sunlight that hits them; that’s why the clouds look bright. (For comparison, the reflectivity of typical martian terrain is 10% to 15%.)”

  • Even looking through smoke is no good for stargazing, so I’d avoid the dust storms altogether. I’ve heard of two big dust storms coming out of Hellas Basin – and I’d avoid all the plains. More research is necessary, but that’s my first shot.

P.S. You’ll have a different North Star, but all the constellations will be the same

See the Moons of Mars for yourself! (from NASA)

Stargazing from Mars - those are the two moons going by. (from NASA)

Question(s) Two: I’m interested in the concept of Martian tourism. Imagine a lightly developed Mars – you can get up there, there are multiple places you can go to and there’s support for people to stay there, but it’s not all the way ‘tamed’ by any means. What would be the coolest things to do? Of course you have less gravity, extra minutes in the day, and the biggest mountain and canyon in the solar system. Anything jump to mind beyond the obvious?

  • Walking up the smooth side of Olympus Mons would be like a stroll in the park – as long as you can keep up the stroll for 375 miles. The grade isn’t even a hike – it’s ADA compliant (you could go up it, easily, in a wheelchair). Now the other side – the scarp – is an ~11km tall vertical cliff. Different story.
  • I’d check out the landing sites for the Vikings, Pathfinder, Rovers, and Phoenix. I’d also go on an expedition to see the Beagle crash site.
  • Watch out when you’re at the side of Valles Marineris – I’ve heard the winds sweeping over the sides and into the trench could knock you over. I tried to double check that, and came up with nothing though…
  • I’d be interested in exploring those fjord/trenches up by the North Pole – they look … interesting.
  • Credit: “Fjords” at the North Pole http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/mars/places/mars_poles_image_gallery.html
  • “Search for Water” – if we had people there, they could go to those crater walls where we’ve been seeing seepage and figure out for sure what it is. I’ll bet this would be as attractive as dowsing.
  • “Chase the Dust Devils” – we don’t understand these even on Earth, and there are tons on Mars.
  • The Face on Mars – it’s just a field of rubble, you won’t see anything there, but you could go anyway. (Expedia included this, it’s Activity #6 – Pareidolia Tour!)
  • No matter what you’re going to need a warm polar jacket. Like the ones they take to Antarctica.

Question(s) Three: Mars humor. Are there any really great/terrible Mars specific jokes that you are aware of? Or even farther out, general astronomy humor? I’m looking for humor that would be mildly accessible to a layperson but thrilling to a geek.

I don’t have ANYTHING really. My favorite is that HP ad that was on TV where the Martians are printing out the Panorama just as fast as Pathfinder can take the pictures.

  • How can you tell Mars isn’t married?
  • It doesn’t have a ring.

Classic, can be used for the Moon too:

Person1: Hey, I went to Mars the other day

Person2: Wow! Cool! How was it?

Person1: Meh, there wasn’t much atmosphere ….

A “bad” collection.

Question(s) Four: Any super super cool recent Mars happenings? Any really interesting current mysteries that would be fun to speculate on? (I heard there’s methane emissions going on up there, indicating either geologic or biologic activity…)

  • Yeah, that methane is almost certainly geologic. The cool part about it is that it is renewing itself. That means there is a source where something is happening.
  • Mars Odyssey successfully rebooted!
  • Spirit and Opportunity both had errors recently – but they’re back up and running. This is not unexpected, they’ve lasted 5 years when they were supposed to last 90 days! (I love it when the rover’s solar panels are cleaned by wind)
  • We got a beautiful picture of Deimos.
  • Lobate flows can be kinda a big deal.
  • We found water on Mars!!! (Over and over and over and over again)

Question(s) Five: I’ve seen Yahoo is doing a Mars weather forecast. I need to do more digging myself but do you know anything about where this kind of data might be publicly accessible? (RSS feed would be the BEST.)

Alice Enevoldsen

~ A l i c e !

Where’d I Get My Info?

Stargazing and Dust on Mars

This was the original intro to this post. It doesn’t make sense now that Expedia’s not pushing their April Fools site as heavily. (Changed 4/2/2009)

Hello! Welcome newcomers, to Alice’s AstroInfo!

If you’ve gotten this far you probably want to know more about me. The best way would be to click over and visit my place of employment:

Pacific Science Center

It’s an awesome interactive science museum in Seattle, Washington (USA) and if you visit their website, you could help show them that my little blog and I are a force to be reckoned with!

PostHeaderIcon Carnival of Space #96

AstroEngine is hosting this week’s Carnival of Space (and my post about Susan Sakimoto is there, alongside Phil’s discussion of the merits of the Kepler mission).

What are you waiting for? Go check it out!

Alice Enevoldsen

~ A l i c e !

PostHeaderIcon American Moon Illusion

Dear Alice
Recently a friend of mine told me that her friends from India insist that the moon in Seattle is bigger than the moon they see back home. Could this be true?
I’ve often wondered why the moon appears larger near the horizon and why I can’t capture that huge moon in a photograph but it has never occurred to me that the moon might appear larger or smaller from different places on the planet. What’s with that?
Thank you for any insight you might have.

-Terry

Terry,

In short, the Moon is always pretty much the same size, no matter where you’re looking from, and no matter where it is in the sky. All those differences are an illusion. I’ve been poking around though, and I can’t find anything about the “American Moon” vs “Indian Moon” illusion. I’ve got a number of resources on the Moon Illusion in general (why the Moon looks so big near the horizon) but only guesses about why it would happen more here than in India.

Moon Illusion

There are many books and papers written on the subject, but in short, no single theory really explains the Moon illusion. The popular explanations are these:

  1. There are reference points for our brains near the horizon, but there are not reference points straight up. Hence we do a better job of judging the distance and size of the Moon when it is low – near mountains and trees.
  2. Our brains flatten the sky. If you ask someone to judge how high something is in the sky they will always overestimate. This is why people often think the Sun is directly overhead, and if you’re up here near the same latitude as Seattle, the highest it will get is about 66 degrees. Therefore we think things above us are closer, and therefore they must be smaller. (I’ll bet this is related to our estimation of slopes – you know how you were telling your friend about that mountain you skied down that was at a 45 degree angle? Well, it wasn’t, it was much less of a slope than that.)
  3. Relative size: this seems similar to #1, but it’s a little different. Because there is stuff next to the Moon when it is near the horizon it looks larger. When the Moon is high there is no stuff next to the Moon and we assume it is small.
  4. There are also some ideas about how the eye perceives things.

None of these theories actually accounts for the illusion. The only for sure part is that the illusion is definitely all in your head – if you measure or photograph the Moon when it looks big and when it looks small you’ll see that the two measurements and pictures are pretty much identical.

Also, I’ve heard it told that if you see one of these large Moons, and you turn your head so you’re looking at it upside down, the illusion disappears. (Actually, what I heard is if you turn around, bend over, and look back through your legs the Moon will look normal, no illusion, because you’re looking upside down).

Indian Moon vs American Moon

I am absolutely positive that your friends are telling you exactly what they see. I also checked in with a couple of my husband’s coworkers who are originally from India, and visit home regularly. They agree that the Moon seems larger here, though they’ve never heard it talked about.

Here are my two thoughts:

Pollution

I don’t have good numbers to back this up, but of the over a billion people in India, tens of millions live in the big cities. Also, and here I’m really speculating, I would believe that of the people who visit or move to the US, a high percentage are from the cities.

The cities in India are notorious for their air pollution. That’s no good for looking at the sky. Also, if you’ve ever seen the Sun during a dust storm, or, more likely here in Seattle, through a haze of clouds (NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN) you know you can see the disk of the Sun, and it looks smaller than you expected. The particles, be they dust, smoke, or water droplets, in the sky dim it down and take away the glamor of the Sun. It’s not as glowy, so it looks smaller.

How High the Moon

The latitude of India is between 5 degrees North and 30 degrees North. The latitude of the US is between 25 degrees North and 50 degrees north (yes, I’m ignoring Alaska, because that would just strengthen the argument). I give you those numbers to support for the idea that in India the Moon spends more time higher above the horizon than it does in the US. This would mean that we get the regular Moon Illusion for more of the Moon’s path through the sky (not just at Moonrise and Moonset) here in the US than you would in India. (Obviously the Moon can always be much lower, because it has to rise from the horizon, which is why I’m only looking at the highest part of the Moon’s path)

The red is the highest possible altitudes for the Sun in the US, the blue is the highest possible altitude for the Sun in India.

The red is the highest possible altitudes for the Sun in the US, the blue is the highest possible altitude for the Sun in India.

Here are some numbers to support that argument. If you don’t like numbers, skip this paragraph. Those latitudes means the highest the Moon gets in the US (in Florida) is two degrees past the zenith, and the lowest high (in Washington State) is about 15 degrees above the horizon. In India the lowest the Moon can get (when it is at it’s highest point in its path across the sky) is 30 degrees above the South horizon, and the highest it can be is all the way over to 72 degrees above the North horizon.

P.S. Moonwatch Week

Hey! I just noticed that it is Moonwatch week over in the UK. Heck, it’s the same Moon, so it might as well be Moonwatch week over here. So – this post is belatedly in honor of Moonwatching. Go out and look!

Alice Enevoldsen
~ A l i c e !

Where’d I Get My Info

NASA’s Moon Illusion Page

The Moon Illusion

Griffith Observer I read a good article in a recent issue, but I can’t find the details right now.

Time and Date

PostHeaderIcon Ada Lovelace Day and Carnivals of Space

Susan Sakimoto

I want to tell you about Susan Sakimoto. No, you haven’t heard of her. No, you won’t be asked to write a report on her (at least, probably not this year). She was the unofficial adviser for my Bachelor’s Honors thesis project in Astronomy-Geology at Whitman College. At the time she was working at NASA Goddard, now she’s a professor at Notre Dame. She studies lava flows … on Mars. And the part that really impresses me: she has kids (whose dad also works full-time at Notre Dame), she runs, and yet somehow her house is still cleaner than mine. Let me reiterate that:

Susan has:

  • children (and it’s not like they have a stay-at-home-dad instead of a stay-at-home-mom)
  • a full-time job – doing science (which you kinda never stop thinking about, and sometimes you have to work all night on to meet deadlines, and often sends you to meetings in who-knows-where)
  • a regular “physical” hobby (not the kind of hobby you can put aside for a month and come back to)
  • and then she took me on as an unofficial advisee…
  • oh yeah, and her house is clean!

I dunno about you, but one or two of those sound like plenty to me. She’s one of those amazing people who does it all. I often feel like I can barely handle my full-time job and house chores. You start talking to me about kids and trying to make it to yoga every week, regularly, and I start wondering what I can drop or cut short.

I’m impressed, but these women are not rare. I’ve met many of them, and I continue to meet more. The key seems to be commitment. If you set your mind do something, and commit to it, you can. So go for it!

Ada Lovelace Day

So why am I telling you about Susan Sakimoto? Because today is Ada Lovelace day. Ada is widely attributed as the woman who wrote the first computer program. She worked closely with Charles Babbage on developing the first mechanical computers. She is one of the many amazing women in science and technology.

As part of the celebration of Ada Lovelace Day I signed a pledge saying I would write about a woman I admire, someone who works in technology. Unfortunately for me, there are so many women in science and technology I admire, that I didn’t know who to write about! There’s Ada herself, of course, and Annie Jump Cannon, Cecelia Payne-Gaposhkin, and Williamina Fleming. And then there are the current scientists (most of whom you’ve never heard of because you tend not to get famous until you’re dead or almost dead): Hannah Jang-Condell, Susan Sakimoto, Andrea Dobson, Pamela Gay (the list goes on and on and on). As you now know, I finally settled on Susan.

Carnival of Space

In the interest of clearing up loose ends – I owe you links to several Carnivals of Space:

Where’d I Get My Info:

http://findingada.com/

http://www.sdsc.edu/ScienceWomen/cannon.html

http://www.carleton.edu/departments/PHAS/Astro/pages/marga_michele/Cecilia_Payne.html

http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/ww/people_fleming.html

http://womeninastronomy.blogspot.com/

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